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Are You Digging It? Cranking up Bass (Part II)
Darin Roddick-Small


Now that you know some of the basics of crank baiting, lets look at when and where you should be looking to use crank baits. Just about every situation can be attacked by using a crank bait. The key is to find which style of crank bait to use at each given time. As discussed in the previous article, there are many different styles, each designed for certain tasks. Also, remember that because of these differences, such as bill size and shape, these crank baits will go through certain types of cover better than others.

Fishing the River
One of my favorite places to throw a crank bait is on the river. The obvious choice when in the current is along rip rap, or wing dams. These are great places for a person to use cranks. One thing I like to make sure of is to have a crank bait that will run just a little deeper than the deepest water you are in. This will allow you to keep in contact with the rubble on the bottom. This is important because every time that your bait hits a rock, or other obstruction, it will bounce off in a unique fashion. This action many times will lead to a reaction strike by a near by bass.

When fishing along riprap, I like to start by casting at an angle to the shore, up river. This will help me to locate at which depth the active fish are located. When I find the active fish, I will position my boat parallel to the shore and cast up river. This allows me to keep my bait in the strike zone for the longest period of time. Remember to adjust your crank bait size to maintain bottom contact.

Wing Dams offer excellent cover, current breaks and  ambush
points for feeding bass.

With wing dams, I will tend to work perpendicular to them. I will again start on the bottom end and work my way up. When talking to many people, they will say that the active fish will position on the up riverside of the wing dam. While this is true, do not forget to work the down riverside of it. I have caught numbers of big fish below the wing dam in the slack water area. Extra caution needs to be used when fish wing dams like this. First of all, you need to slow down your retrieve when coming up the face of the wing dam; otherwise you will get hung in the rocks. Secondly, if you are not careful, your trolling motor and your big motor can take a beating in the rocks. For these reasons, I urge you to use caution.

One thing that becomes an issue when throwing cranks in the rocks like this will be that you may become hung up in them. I have two suggestions for you when this happens. First, I tend to use floating crank baits because I can usually get them free. One way to do this is by giving some slack line and seeing if the crank will back out on its own. If that does not happen, then I will tighten the line and snap it. This is an art form and needs to be practiced to become good at it. This technique works much like if you were to snap your line after becoming snagged and the lure would float to the surface. Another way to reduce the number of crank baits lost would to buy a lure retriever. I find the pole models to be better in the long run, because in most cases you will be with in reach when you get hung.

Cranking in Lakes
Lakes will have as many, if not more situations for crank baiting. From fishing along riprap retaining walls, to fishing sunken humps, or weed edges. All are good places to fish with cranks. When fishing in lakes, I like to pay special attention to the wind, as it will be a source of current and will help to concentrate bass in given locations.

Rip Rap and Sunken Rock Humps
I tend to fish riprap areas on lakes and rivers the same. In both places, fish will tend to hold at a certain depth, depending on the conditions and the presence of baitfish. Also, I will position by boat down wind so that I will be going against the current created by the wind. When fishing this riprap, make sure to watch you depth finder and see if the baitfish and bass are suspended off of the bottom. My favorite rock walls will be the ones that have the wind blowing directly into them, pushing plankton and baitfish into them.

Rock humps on the main lake are a great place to look for bass. Many anglers will not fish these and as a result, they can hold some high quality fish. Good electronics and lake map will make this a lot easier. If these rock humps are relatively shallow, I will try to work the outside edges first, to see if the fish there. After working the outer edges, I will throw a crank bait along the top. A suspending jerk bait can be deadly on rock humps at certain times, so do not be afraid to try one out.

Flooded Timber
Although you can find flooded timber in rivers as well, I tend to use crank baits lees there than in lakes. When fishing wood in lakes, I like to use a coffin bill, or square bill on my crank baits. These tend the hang up less and have an erratic action when they bounce off logs. Once again, I find this to be when many strikes occur.

If you are fishing a flat covered by timber, I will try to start by locating hump, or ditches on the flats and work those areas first. Patches of wood on the flat, or an area with something just a little different tend to hold more fish than a large area that is all the same. Do not hesitate to fish an isolated stump, as they will sometimes hold some of the bigger fish in an area. When I find a tree that is laying n the water, from the shore, I will work the outer edges first and then probe the inside, working to the trunk of the tree. If you go for the heart of the tree first you may either get snagged and scare the others away, or catch one and have the same result. By fishing outside in, you target the aggressive fish first and work in to the less aggressive fish.

Weed Edges and Flats
Outside edges in deep, clear lakes are great spots to locate bass one great way to search and catch them are with crank baits. When fishing them this way, I would suggest using a deep diving crank bait with a wide wobble and square lip, like a Wiggle Wart. This style of bait will tend to come through the weeds better than others. A lipless crank bait, such as a rattle trap could be used here as well. With either choice it is important to make contact with the outer edges of the weeds. In this area, the weed growth will be more sparse and you will be able to actually retrieve the bait with out it being constantly fouled. When you do come in contact with the weeds, jerk the rod tip briskly to break the weeds free from the bait. Over time you will notice that some weeds are better than others for this technique. As in previous areas, many strikes will occur when you break the bait free of the weeds. 

Rat-L-Traps perform well
on grass flats

With the weed flats, a shallow running crank bait, like the Mannís Baby Minus, or a Rattle Trap, work great here. Like before, it is important to keep in contact with the weeds. A quick snap of the rod will remove most weeds and will many times trigger a strike from an area bass. This technique does not work well in junk weeds like slime and some of the really thick weeds. I have found it to work really well with eelgrass and coon tail and new milfoil. 

When you are out in your favorite body of water next time, spend some time trying some of these things out. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results. It is also a great way to change up from what the fish as conditioned to seeing on many lakes, the repetition of jigs, spinner baits and soft plastics.

Tight Lines and God bless
Darin Roddick-Small
Future Bass Pro Staff
Brovarney Baits Pro Staff